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Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Our priority is to protect our Service members, Department of Defense (DOD) civilians and families to safeguard national security capabilities and support the whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The DoD has an independent but collaborative program with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to provide COVID-19 vaccines to DOD uniformed service members. This includes active duty, Guard/Reserve, retirees, family members, civilian employees and selected DoD contract personnel. 

Vaccine Priorities

Effective April 19, 2021 all eligible and authorized TRICARE beneficiaries can make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, as available, at a DOD vaccination site. Getting the vaccine is voluntary, but all DoD personnel are encouraged to get it to protect their health, their families and their community. Early in the COVID-19 vaccination program, there will be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine(s) and vaccine distribution priorities will focus on:

  • Health care workers and emergency services personnel
  • Personnel performing activities associated with critical national capabilities
  • Select deploying individuals
  • Other critical and essential support
  • Individuals at the highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19
  • Adults age 75 and older

Vaccines will be offered to other MHS beneficiaries as more vaccines are available and after priority individuals have been vaccinated.

Where to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

The availability of the vaccine may vary by location. The vaccines will be more broadly available in the coming months. You should contact your local military hospital or clinic for their vaccination process and availability. You can also visit your military hospital's website, news media, or social media to stay informed about vaccine updates. 

You’ll eventually be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine at:

The vaccine itself is offered at no cost, but there may be a cost based on your plan for an office visit or if you require follow-on care. Wherever you eventually receive your vaccination, please remember you'll need to check availability before showing up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and answers about the COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts


What is an Emergency Use Authorization?


Drugs and vaccines have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that only safe and effective products are available to the American public. During public health emergencies, when there is good scientific reason to believe that a product is safe and is likely to treat or prevent disease, the FDA may authorize its use through an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), even if definitive proof of the effectiveness of the drug or vaccine is not known.

FDA pre-licensure approval is considered for treatment or prevention of diseases that are very serious.


Can someone get COVID-19 from the vaccine?


No, it’s not possible to get COVID-19 from vaccines. Vaccines against COVID-19 use inactivated virus, parts of the virus, or a gene from the virus. None of these can cause COVID-19.


Should I get the vaccine for influenza (flu shot)?


Yes, it is very important to get the influenza vaccine, particularly this season when both influenza viruses and COVID-19 will infect people.


What kind of information will be available to me before I receive the vaccine?


Each potential recipient of COVID-19 vaccine will receive a vaccine-specific Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Fact Sheet for Recipients from the FDA, which will provide the following information:

  • Basic information on COVID-19, symptoms, and what to discuss with a health care provider before vaccination
  • Who should and should not receive the vaccine
  • That recipients have the choice to receive the vaccine
  • Dosage and vaccine series information
  • Risks and benefits of the vaccine
  • An explanation of what an EUA is and why it is issued
  • Any approved available alternatives for preventing COVID-19
  • Additional resources

How will I be able to keep track of what vaccine I got and when I need to get a second dose?


All vaccine recipients will be provided a copy of the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card after receipt of the vaccine. It is recommended that the second-dose appointment be made at the time of initial vaccinations, or instructions provided on procedures for second dose follow-up. If a vaccine recipient has a smartphone, it is recommended that they take a photo of the vaccination record card as a back-up copy and set a calendar reminder for receipt of the second dose.


How do we know if the vaccine is safe? How will you monitor and track vaccine side effects?


The DoD is confident in the stringent regulatory process and requirements of the FDA. Manufacturers are required to submit their raw data for the FDA to review. Safety, immune response, and efficacy data from the trial stages are submitted to the FDA before they are authorized for use and distribution. Per FDA requirements, DoD will be monitoring and tracking vaccine reports of vaccine side effects through various surveillance activities both internal and external to the DoD.


Will the DoD provide vaccines for civilian employees and contractor staff working in military hospitals or clinics?


The DoD will offer vaccine to civilian and contractor staff with direct patient care and to those who normally receive vaccine for occupational health purposes, as authorized in accordance with DoD regulation.


Will DoD require all service members to receive the vaccine?


No. The vaccine will be offered on a voluntary basis. Priority populations are highly encouraged to receive the vaccine. When formally licensed by the FDA, a vaccine may become mandatory for military personnel, as is the case for the influenza vaccine.


Why should we receive the first-available vaccine when there are several other vaccines still in trials?


People who are offered the first-available vaccine are considered to be in groups that are most in need of COVID-19 protection. Vaccinated people will be protecting themselves, as well as their families and all people with whom they interact. Evaluation of the first-available vaccine will continue, even after its pre-licensure release. The release of other vaccines cannot be fully predicted, so people who are offered the first-available vaccine will be encouraged to receive this vaccine.


Will TRICARE beneficiaries including military retirees have access to the vaccine?


Yes, based on Department of Defense prioritization. While there is limited vaccine availability, vaccination distribution prioritization will focus on those providing direct medical care, maintaining essential national security and installation functions, deploying forces, and those beneficiaries at the highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19. TRICARE beneficiaries empaneled at a DoD military treatment facility (MTF) are eligible to receive the vaccine at a DoD MTF.

TRICARE beneficiaries who receive care at DoD MTFs on a space-available basis can alternately receive vaccine through the local civilian jurisdiction, when available.


Where should I be vaccinated?


To the greatest extent possible, beneficiaries in priority groups who are enrolled at Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) should come to the MTF to be vaccinated. This will ensure the maximum number of vaccine opportunities allocated to jurisdictions other than DoD are available for the non-DoD population. TRICARE beneficiaries who receive care at DoD MTFs on a space-available basis can alternately receive vaccine through the local civilian jurisdiction.


If I’ve already recovered from COVID-19 infection, do I need to be vaccinated?


Because the duration of immunity from natural infection with COVID-19 is unknown, vaccine may have value in protecting people who have already had the disease. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this. Talk with your provider if you have been previously infected with COVID-19.


Will we still need to wear masks and practice physical distancing once a vaccine is available?


Yes. The intent of the vaccine is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We’ll still need to wear appropriate face covings and practice physical distancing in order limit the spread of the virus. Additionally, initially, we will not have enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone who wants the vaccine and COVID-19 pandemic risks will continue. We will continue to recommend wearing masks and practicing physical distancing, for everyone, until the pandemic risk of COVID-19 is substantially reduced.


Should children get the vaccine?


The current vaccine(s) trials have not studied the safety and efficacy for children and manufactures are not currently asking the FDA for authorization to vaccinate children. 


How long will protection last following vaccination?


We don’t know how long protection will last following vaccination but it will be critically important to measure long-term protection (at least two years) in the phase 3 trials and in other groups prioritized for early vaccination. We are still learning about the duration of protection following infection with COVID-19 and it is too early to tell how long protection will last.

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